A recent blog post by Jeff Elly brought to my attention “NAJ Economics“, an overlay journal devoted to Economics that has been in operation for about eight years, although at pretty low volume. ”NAJ” stands for “Not a Journal” (or the geek-wannabe GNU-like “NAJ aint a journal”), and the idea is that the set of (rather distinguished) editors choose papers that they like on the web, peer-review them, and publish links to the “reviewed” papers. The way it works is that the editors pick what they want to review: you can not submit your paper to NAJ, nor can you ask them not to review your paper once you’ve put it openly on the web. The idea is that this gives a peer-reviewed publication: the author takes care of publication on the web, and NAJ provides the peer-review. (I started thinking about “NAJ AGT” which could handle publication more elegantly by relying on the arXiv. But then, it doesn’t seem that “NAJ economics” is a success story, so maybe not.)
At the same time, Daniel Lemire posts a 1987 “EWD” by Dijkstra going against the whole notion of trusting peer review too much. Indeed, Dijkstra rarely published his work in the usual sense but rather mailed out photocopies of his hand-written writings, termed EWDs, to colleagues. While my sympathies (like those of Lemire) are with this mode of publication, I’m afraid that few non-Turing-Award-winners will get their work noticed this way, so some mechanism for allocation of attention is still needed.